The rabbit has been slow in reporting the major international incident that took place in Hyde Park last Saturday aka the Springsteen concert due to pressure of work but I can now finally pronounce. Given the endless rain that the UK has been inflicted with over the 'summer' due to something called the Jet Stream that normally drenches Scandanavia moving south, I had wondered whether the concert was going to take place at all. A Kylie and Jason reunion concert (ermmmm ... ) at the same location on the previous Tuesday was cancelled - the surface of Hyde Park being described as 'emulsified'. Nice word that ... Help was however at hand in the form of 800,000 square metres of wood shavings (yes really). Here are some of the wood shavings having been spread over the ground. The effect was bouncy, safe and distinctly smelly in an agricultural sort of way.
Through the warm up acts it didn't rain very much at all. Although some people had sensibly come well prepared.
And the actual Springsteen set? Well his concerts are a cross between a huge karaoke session led by Bruce and a revival meeting. That's not to knock it. I think the guy is a total class act and an honest performer. He is one of those performers who you sense is actually on your side and not on a corporately sponsored cynical exercise in squeezing one last payday out of the punters. His workrate is phenomenal - as is the length of his sets (with consequences known now to everyone not in one of the remoter regions of Papua New Guinea). For the first hour it didn't even rain. Then the rain started. The wetter it got the more Bruce cranked up the energy levels. It is fortunate for the rabbit's dignity - which is of course immense - that there is no record of him singing and dancing along to Darlington County/Working On The Highway.
The young rabbit was absolutely blown away by Springsteen's early work. Was it possible for rock music to get any better? The young rabbit doubted it. The signs that the man was mortal after all first surfaced with the simultaneously released Human Touch and Lucky Town in 1992 which were okayish and no more. There hasn't been a subsequent decline like say Bob Marley's - from red raw stuff like the Catch A Fire album generally to twee rubbish like Three Little Birds. The later stuff is good - some of it very good indeed (see below). And the guy is a supreme performer. Then of course among the E Street Band were Steve Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren - sightings to make for a very happy rabbit. The Ballad of Tom Joad and Shackled and Drawn stood out in the middle passage. Then working towards the end, full on karaoke session with Born In The USA, Born to Run, Dancing In The Dark and Glory Days. The last of these like so ...
By this time it was pushing 10.30 and Springsteen had been on stage for about 3 hours not counting the John Fogerty bit piece. On came Paul McCartney - not being a huge Beatles fan, the rabbit was less than impressed but a decent duet to I Saw Her Standing There and Twist and Shout with a little bit of La Bamba thrown in for good measure followed. What happened then? Well we all know ...
What do i think? Well yes it was officious but the (not very many) people who live around Hyde Park are very rich, very well connected and hate the concerts in the first place. There are no doubt penalty clauses in the hire agreements for over runs. The organisers were no doubt getting jumpier and jumpier. Then someone threw the switch. The music didn't so much stop but fade away over a few seconds - a very strange effect.
Oh and guess how many complaints Westminster Council received as regards the over run? Two. Finally - here is a recent Bruce song to demonstrate that he can still hit the heights. It's not from the concert but was performed at it. Shackled and Drawn - Pure quality.